Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Anatomy of Marginalization in the Anglican Church in North America

By Robin G. Jordan

The Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops has since its formation shown a consistent pattern of favoring the denomination’s Anglo-Catholic wing and unreformed Catholic teaching and practices over the denomination’s confessional Anglican wing and confessional Anglicanism. The College of Bishops has extended not only recognition and affirmation but also protected status to the convictions of the Anglo-Catholic wing.

The message that the College of Bishops is conveying is that it has no respect for the convictions of confessional Anglicans and ultimately for confessional Anglicans as Christians. The College of Bishops is essentially saying that confessional Anglicans and their convictions are not important enough in the scheme of things to be given even the slightest consideration.

Confessional Anglicans are as far as the College of Bishops is concerned nobodies—people of no importance. This is how the College of Bishops as a body perceives them.

Now the Anglican Church in North America’s Anglo-Catholic wing is supposed to be confessional Anglicans’ brothers and sisters in Christ, their partners and fellow workers in mission and ministry. This is what Archbishop Iliud Wabukala, GAFCON chairman, called them in his latest pastoral letter. But it is quite obvious that the denomination’s Anglo-Catholic wing do not see confessional Anglicans this way.

Treating the convictions of Biblically faithful Anglicans as not worthy of consideration is to marginalize them, to treat them as individuals of no worth. Whatever position confessional Anglicans may occupy in a particular diocese, network, or other para-church organization, the position that they occupy in the denomination is that of a marginalized group. There is no escaping this fact. Their convictions do not at the denominational level enjoy the recognition, affirmation, and protected status that the convictions of Anglo-Catholics and those who share their convictions do. By no stretch of the imagination can the Anglican Church in North America be regarded as genuinely comprehensive even where theologically-conservative Anglicans are concerned.

While it is possible for now for para-church organizations in the Anglican Church in North America to adopt a more confessional Anglican stance, the denomination’s governing documents do not contain any provisions that actually sanction such action. Here again we enter the murky realm of unwritten understandings which only bind those who chose to accept their terms. Adopting such a stance does not extend recognition and affirmation of the convictions of confessional Anglicans beyond the para-church organization adopting it. It certainly does not extend protected status to confessional Anglican convictions or to those who hold such convictions within the denomination nor reduce or eliminate the marginalization of confessional Anglicans. It is at best--as important as it may be--an inadequate measure.

The only way to extend recognition, affirmation, and protected status to confessional Anglicanism in the Anglican Church in North America and to lessen and ultimately end the marginalization of confessional Anglicans is to form a second province within the Anglican Church in North America—a province that in its teaching and practices is closely aligned to the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies and which has its own rites and services, catechism, bishops, and synodical government. The alternative is to undertake a major overhaul of the denomination’s governing documents and other doctrinal statements and to replace a substantial number of its top leaders.

These actions would require the cooperation of the College of Bishops and the denomination’s Anglo-Catholic wing and consequently has very little likelihood of happening. They have no incentive to undertake such actions.  

Due to conditions in the Anglican Church in North America the formation of a second province within the denomination requires independent action. It is a reality that Anglicans whose convictions are confessional must face.

Confessional Anglicans must also go about establishing this second province in such a way that the College of Bishops and the denomination’s Anglo-Catholic wing will have no option but to accept its existence or reveal their true colors. Their acceptance of the second province would offer definite proof that they are confessional Anglicans’ brothers and sisters in Christ, their partners and fellow workers in mission and ministry, which Archbishop Wabukala would like us to believe that they are. 

The Dawn of Reformation

The brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon, is the morning star. It appears about an hour before dawn. John Wycliffe (c. 1330-84) is often called the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” and for good reason, for his life shone brightly as a forerunner of the Reformation. Jan Hus (c. 1370-1415) worked by the light of this morning star, even as the greater light of the Reformation was about to dawn. Through Wycliffe, God brought light to people who were dwelling in darkness—one of whom was Hus. Hus boldly carried on the controversy that Wycliffe began, the controversy over the final authority of Scripture that would soon engulf the entire continent of Europe in the Reformation of the sixteenth century. In fact, Martin Luther (1483-1546), in his debate with Johann Eck, even declared, “I am a Hussite.”

These men were by no means the source of light; they were tarnished mirrors who reflected the one source of light, the Light of the World—Jesus Christ. The living and active Word of God reveals this Light. In His sovereignty, God used these forerunners of the Reformation to direct His people back to His Word. Once Scripture was rediscovered, the light of God’s truth began to shine ever more brightly in the hearts of God’s people, which, in turn, led to the Reformation. Keep reading

A Small Church Welcome

My life was changed by the pastor of a 20-person church in London. That small church is where I was first mentored and developed as a disciple of Jesus, so I’m appreciative of the small church. Even though that church was small, I know they never stopped praying for new people to come to Jesus through them. They were small, with a very large missional heart.

In fact, I found that congregation by a simple sandwich board sign on the sidewalk in front of the church. It read, “Bible Study Inside Today 12:00 p.m. Everyone welcome!” It was a time when I was searching and had even bought a small Bible. I saw the sign and thought, “I have a Bible. I wonder what’s in there.” So I opened the door and peeked in to see three elderly people sitting in a circle. I wanted to say, “Oops! Sorry, wrong building,” and leave. But the pastor, who was 82 years old, looked up with a twinkle-eyed glance and asked, “Here for the study?” and I couldn’t say no. So I sat down, without them judging me for my hair, my clothing or my punk band lifestyle. They took me into their small church community and my life was changed as a result. Keep reading

Ministry's Bleeding Edge

What churches do for trauma.

One of my first Barna research projects introduced me to trauma. No, that's not a joke. In 1997, emerging from the sheltered life of Christian college, I completed a study for Prison Fellowship on how—and if—churches help people who had been raped, robbed, or in other ways victimized.

It was an eye-opening experience. It taught me that for millions of people—and nearly all of us at some point—life is tainted by extraordinarily difficult and challenging circumstances. It reminded me in stark statistical terms that local church leaders have to minister, almost literally, at the bleeding edge of these realities. However, it was also surprising how few churches offered intentional support to people dealing with trauma.

Since then, our team has learned a lot on this topic. Here are four things we've found about people undergoing trauma and how the church is responding. Keep reading

Issues in Church Leadership: Five Articles

5 Reminders When You are the Community’s Pastor

There are times when a pastor is launched into the role of being a community pastor. At this point, it doesn’t matter the size of the church or the notoriety of the pastor. The community is looking for the pastor to lead. Keep reading

5 Reasons Delegation Fails

I encounter many leaders who claim to want delegation to be a part of their leadership. They know the value. But they are often frustrated with the results they receive on delegated projects, so they tend to control the project — which isn’t delegation — or they do everything themselves. Keep reading

13 Realities Of Angry Pastors

This is a very important post because the content below is going to save someone’s job and ministry. For others, it will be a sad reminder of lost opportunity. For another group, the information will be laughed off and ignored to your own peril. Keep reading

You're Not a Leader If You Never Say You're Sorry

You are not a good leader if you never tell people you are sorry. There are a myriad of issues in the heart of a leader who never apologizes. If you never apologize, at least one of the following is also true.... Keep reading

I Wish I’d Known: 3 Facts That Top My List

Three facts sit atop my ‘I Wish I’d Known’ list.

Fact #1: 90 percent of pastors will never pastor a church larger than 200 people. Keep reading

FREE eBook From Northeast Multiplication Leader

What are the questions that have changed your life? For Jeff Leake, president of the Reach Northeast church planting network, the question that changed his life—and the lives of thousands–came in November of 1996. In this FREE resource, Leake shares the story of why and how he has led Allison Park Church to become a multiplication center that to date has been involved with the planting of 38 churches throughout the Northeast. Learn more

"Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country" and More: Fourteen Articles - UPDATED

Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now

No, the sky is not falling — not yet, anyway — but with the Supreme Court ruling constitutionalizing same-sex marriage, the ground under our feet has shifted tectonically.

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now.

Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety, precisely because its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.

The alarm that the four dissenting justices sounded in their minority opinions is chilling. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia were particularly scathing in pointing out the philosophical and historical groundlessness of the majority’s opinion. Justice Scalia even called the decision “a threat to democracy,” and denounced it, shockingly, in the language of revolution. Keep reading

Also see
State resistance to marriage ruling dissipates
Frank Page: Be God-empowered in a fallen culture
Long-term view needed, Moore says of marriage
FIRST-PERSON: The conflict in our culture, Part 1
FIRST-PERSON: Chutzpah and the Supreme Court
Struggle over Same-Sex Marriage's Religious Liberty Ramifications Begins
Sodom, Leviticus, and Obergefell: The Bible After Friday's Decision
It’s Time to Legalize Polygamy
Pennsylvania Media Group Apologizes for Labeling Traditional Marriage Support as Hate Speech
John Piper: Celebrating Homosexual Sin Isn't New but Institutionalization of It Is
Opening Our Eyes to Obergefell and Its Effects: A Pastoral, Cultural, and Legal Round-Up
The Church in Exile
Dear Christian Friends: Remember You Are Not Home
I am seeing a plethora of articles on the Internet as liberals celebrate the Supreme Court's gay marriage decision and Christians struggle with its implications for them. Already the liberal media is exploiting the support of some Christians for the decision as ammunition in their attack on Christians who hold a Beblical and traditionalist view of marrige and human sexuality. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Blue Print for a Second ACNA Province

By Robin G. Jordan

What I am advocating in my recent articles is that Anglicans who are part of the Anglican Church in North America and who believe that historic Anglicanism is sufficiently catholic and does not need to adopt unreformed Catholic teaching and practices, Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, to become more fully Catholic take their future into their own hands. This requires bold action as I have pointed out in these articles.

Those who maintain that there is plenty of room in the Anglican Church in North America for such Anglicans do not appreciate their precarious position in the denomination. They underestimate the strength of the convictions of those who are a part of the Anglican Church in North America and who want to make the denomination more Catholic. Every doctrinal statement that the College of Bishops has endorsed to date has moved the Anglican Church in North America in the direction of unreformed Catholicism and away from historic Anglicanism.

If the College of Bishops had a genuine commitment to a policy of comprehension, the College would not be taking the denomination in that direction. It would be endorsing doctrinal statements that affirmed the beliefs and values of all schools of thought represented in the denomination. It has done nothing of the sort. To date it has endorsed:

 ·        An ordinal that alters the historic preface of the Anglican Ordinal so as to permit only an Anglo-Catholic interpretation of the preface and which countenances unreformed Catholic teaching and practices;

 ·        Eucharistic rites that give expression to the medieval Catholic doctrines of the sacrifice of the Mass and Transubstantiation and the equally unscriptural Lambeth doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice;

 ·        A catechism that takes unreformed Catholic positions on the order of salvation, the sacraments, and sanctification.

Its actions are not the actions of a College of Bishops committed to comprehending the beliefs and values of all schools of thought represented in the Anglican Church in North America. They are the actions of a College of Bishops that seeks to Catholicize the doctrine, order, and practice of the denomination.

As I have also pointed out in previous articles, Anglicans who are part of the Anglican Church in North America and who believe that historic Anglicanism is sufficiently catholic have no standing in the denomination. They are not recognized as a distinct group with its own beliefs and values which must be considered in the development of rites and services and a catechism for the denomination.

How anyone can claim in the face of this and other evidence that there is plenty of room for such Anglicans in the denomination boggles the mind. They are clearly permitted in the denomination on sufferance and then mostly likely due to their gifts, numbers, and resources, which are presently needed for the denomination to grow. They, however, are apparently not needed enough to accommodate what they believe and value.

I am convinced that the College of Bishops will pursue its present direction as long as it does not encounter any major obstacles or serious objections. The College of Bishops in this regard is like a teenage who is testing how far he can push the limits. The more successful a teenager is in pushing the limits, the more emboldened he is to push them. At some point he will get totally out of control unless firm limits are set and enforced. This includes allowing him to experience the negative consequences of his actions. When parents fail to set and enforce such limits, outside intervention is required for the teenager’s own good.

The Anglican Church in North America unfortunately has very few mechanisms for holding its bishops accountable for their actions. It has no provincial synod that must approve the decisions of the College of Bishops and which acts as a counterbalance to the College. The Provincial Council is the official governing body of the denomination but the College of Bishops has to a large extent usurped its authority and effectively bypassed the Council as a policy-making body.

Due to the kind of system created by the present constitution and canons of the Anglican Church in North America and due to the way that it operates, lobbying the Provincial Council and the College of Bishops is pointless. Bringing about change in this type of closed system requires taking the initiative and acting independently of the system.

Among the steps that proponents of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America can take to lay the foundation for such a province are these ten steps:

1. Form a voluntary association of Biblically faithful Anglican congregations and clergy who are part of the Anglican Church in North America and who accept the Scripture-based doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies. This association would be organized into regional and district branches, each composed of congregations and clergy affiliated with the association in a specific geographic area and having its bylaws, own general meeting, executive board, and officers. Provision for a form of affiliation with the association would be made for congregations and clergy who are not located in an area that has a district branch and for private individuals sharing its beliefs and values and sympathetic to its aims.

2. Develop and implement credentialing processes to establish the qualification of clergy and other ministry leaders and to assess their background and legitimacy. These processes would include screening candidates for ordination or licensure and overseeing their formation and training.

3. Establish and maintain a central registry of clergy and other ministry leaders meeting association standards. Congregations seeking to call a senior pastor or to hire additional staff would be able to access this registry in their search for suitable candidates. Congregations and clergy affiliated with the association would as a condition of their affiliation agree to employ or appoint only clergy and other ministry leaders on the registry or otherwise accredited by the association. They would also agree to require their clergy and other ministry leaders to sign an agreement at the time of their employ or appointment to the effect that they would tender their resignation in the event they ceased to subscribe to the Scripture-based doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies. This would help ensure that only clergy and other ministry leaders meeting association standards would serve association-affiliated congregations. 

4. Develop and produce or approve training modules for clergy and other ministry leaders. One of the aims of the association would be to help affiliated congregations to recruit and develop new leaders. Such leaders are critical to congregational growth.

5. Develop and implement a united plan of giving through which affiliated congregations give a percentage of their undesignated receipts in support of their respective regional branch and the association’s missions and ministries. Every year affiliated congregations would decide how much of its undesignated gifts would be committed to reaching people in the region and throughout the world through the association. They would then forward this amount to their regional branch.  Delegates to the regional branch’s general meeting would decide what percentage of the gifts by affiliated congregations stay in the region to support regional branch missions and ministries. They would also determine what percentage would be forwarded to the national association for the association’s North American and international missions and ministries. Delegates to the national association’s general meeting from each regional branch would decide how the gifts received from the regional branches would be distributed among national association entities. These gifts would be used by national association entities to send and support missionaries, train clergy and other ministry leaders, provide relief for retired clergy and widows, and address social, moral, and ethical concerns related to the association’s belief and values and its families. *

6. Plant and grow new congregations. This would be primarily the responsibility of regional and district branches and local congregations. Association-wide church planting initiatives could also be launched at the national association level targeting unreached, unengaged people groups and focusing and supporting regional, district, and local church planting efforts in relation to these people groups.

7. Compile and publish liturgical resources which reflect the Scripture-based doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies. These rites and services would include orders for Morning and Evening Prayer, alternative forms of morning and evening worship, services of the Lord’s Supper, baptism services, confirmation services, marriage services, services of thanksgiving for the birth of a child and the safe delivery of the child’s mother, services for the funeral of an adult and the funeral of child, forms of prayer for use with the sick and dying, services for the communion of the sick, services for the commissioning of lay readers, catechists, and evangelists, services for the installation of a senior pastor, and ordination services for deacons, presbyters, and bishops, and services for the installation of a bishop, and the like. They would use modern day English and have sufficient flexibility for use in a variety of settings by congregations in a variety of circumstances. They would be easy to understand and use and would have a minimum of rubrics.

8. Issue doctrinal statements on key issues such as the sacraments, articulating positions that are consistent with the Scripture-based doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies. Offer webinars on the theology of the English Reformers, the history of the Anglican Church, the Homilies, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and The Book of Common Prayer. Publish popular and scholarly articles related to these topics. Produce videos for use at regional branch, district branch, and local congregational gatherings.

9. Develop and publish a catechism and other instructional material for adults and children in line with the Scripture-based doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies.

10. Establish and build relationships with like-minded Anglicans outside the Anglican Church in North America. Form mission and ministry partnerships with such Anglicans.

What other steps do you think proponents of a second ACNA province might take to lay its foundation?

What step should they make their first priority?
*What I am describing in this paragraph is a giving plan similar to the Southern BaptistConvention’s Cooperative Program. I adapted the description of the Cooperative Program which appears on the Southern Baptist Convention website.

Six Reasons Why Church Worship Centers Will Get Smaller

I am a product of the Baby Boomer big worship center era. For many of us old guys, the formula for building a worship center was straightforward. We would project the church’s growth many years out and build a worship center to accommodate that growth in a single service.

Those days are ending.

The more common approach today is to build a worship center that will accommodate growth with multiple services, multiple venues, and multiple campuses. As a consequence, there will be no need for a large, single-service facility.

How did this change take place? Let’s look at six key reasons. Keep reading

Also see
Designing the Church as Today’s Town Square
Worship centers are going to get smaller and more multi-purpose. At the same time they are no longer going to serve as wedding chapels and reception halls for wedding receptions.

Three Challenges of Leading a Growing Church

There are some inherent blessings to serving on staff at a growing church. The energy and excitement are high as you are privileged to see new people coming to faith, new families being served, and new people being connected. The growth creates momentum and helps cover up mistakes that are more noticeable when you are not in a growing context. John Maxwell says, “Momentum makes leaders look better than they actually are. It exaggerates all their strengths. Momentum covers a multitude of mistakes. Without momentum, people magnify the flaws of their leaders.”

At the same time, there are some immense challenges to leading a growing church. Here are three common challenges in navigating the growth of a local church.... Keep reading

Rules For Sermon Writing

Alexander Somerville (1811-1855) was one of the closest friends of Robert Murray McCheyne. Serving the Lord in Glasgow and having a powerful ministry in his own right, we see something of Somerville’s rigorous preparation in his “Rules for sermon writing.” These are sane and above all spiritually-minded guidelines. Why not print them off, as I have, and pin them in near proximity to wherever you prepare your sermons? Keep reading

Viewpoint: Good Motives Gone Bad

The adage tells us that there is a destination, the road to which is paved with good intentions. It is the destination that we would prefer not to reach. Good intentions can have disastrous results and consequences. When we look at the revolution of worship in America today, I see a dangerous road that is built with such intentions. The good purposes that have transformed worship in America have as their goal to reach a lost world—a world that is marked by baby boomers and Generation Xers who have in many ways rejected traditional forms and styles of worship. Many have found the life of the church to be irrelevant and boring, and so an effort to meet the needs of these people has driven some radical changes in how we worship God.

Perhaps the most evident model developed over the last half century is that model defined as the “seeker-sensitive model.” Seekers are defined as those people who are unbelievers and are outside of the church but who are searching for meaning and significance to their lives. The good intention of reaching such people with evangelistic techniques that include the reshaping of Sunday morning worship fails to understand some significant truths set forth in Scripture. Keep reading
I tagged this article as a "viewpoint" because there are those who believe that unbelievers may attend a church's worship gathering out of the wrong motives and nonetheless hear God's call. God uses human beings as the instruments through which he calls people to himself and God may use unbelievers' weaknesses, their selfish motives, to bring them to the place where they will hear God's chosen instrument through whom he is going to call them to himself.  After all God's ways are not our ways; his thoughts, not our thoughts. What do you think?

Ending Tax Exemptions Means Ending Churches

Mark Oppenheimer of The New York Times is now calling for the government to remove tax-exempt status from churches. After I posted a link to his article on Facebook, a pastor friend commented: “I’m not sure our small church could survive.” That, my friends, is the point. And Oppenheimer knows it.

Legal gay marriage is not the endgame for the gay-rights movement. It never was. Moral approval is the endgame. The agenda is not tolerance for different beliefs and lifestyles. The agenda is a demand that everyone get on board with the moral revolution or be punished. That means if you or your church won’t get with the program, then the revolutionaries will endeavor to close you down.

But they aren’t going to say,”We’ll close you down,” in so many words. They will cover it in propaganda that conceals their real aim. They’ll say, as Oppenheimer does, that taxpayers are “subsidizing” churches, that ministers make fat-cat six-figure salaries, and that government should get those rich priests and preachers off the government dole. Keep reading

Also see
Now's the Time to End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions

Reflections on the Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision: Seven Articles - UPDATED

Trouble Ahead for U.S. Churches?

The Supreme Court is an anomaly. It is neither "Supreme" (since it can overrule itself at any time, and also be overruled by statute or constitutional amendment) nor -- after yesterday's decision -- a court. Here is how Justice Scalia described it in his dissent to the same-sex marriage decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) -- it consists of
... nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.
Yesterday, two Catholic and three Jewish Justices -- two Californians and three New Yorkers, four of them graduates of Harvard and one a graduate of Yale -- purported to discover a constitutional "right" to marriage. This maneuver preempted the various State legislatures who had been dealing with the question, and now makes it impossible for any legislature (Congress included) to change, modify or eliminate the "right", as it is a federal constitutional one. Unless and until the Supreme Court reverses its own decision, or until three-quarters of the States pass an amendment, it will stay as is. Keep reading

American Tragedy: Now Gird Up Your Loins

Today, June 26, 2015, a day of national tragedy, the Supreme Court of the United States rendered what should rank as the worst decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the lifetime of every living American (rivaled only by Roe v. Wade) and at least one of the two or three worst decisions since the Court's inception (compare the Dred Scott case).

Five lawless judges (all four Democrat-appointed judges: Obama's Sotomayor and Kagan; Clinton's Ginsburg and Breyer; and one traitor appointed by Reagan: Kennedy) defeated four Constitution-abiding judges (four of the five Republican-appointed judges: Bush Jr.'s Roberts and Alito; Bush Sr's Thomas; and Reagan's Scalia) to foist "gay marriage" on all 50 states. Five unelected lawyers have acted as legislators and imposed their arbitrary and extreme leftwing ideology on all the American people, culminating the judicial tyranny over the past two years that has preempted the democratic process.

Chief Justice Roberts is right in declaring this ruling to be “an act of will, not legal judgment.... Just who do we think we are?" Justice Scalia is right in saying that this ruling is "a threat to American democracy." Justice Alito is right in warning that the decision "will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy.... The implications [of comparing traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women] will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”

Unless this decision can be reversed soon through the next two presidential elections and the retirement/replacement of renegade SCOTUS judges (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer are the first up), this will turn out to be the greatest American tragedy for the civil liberties of persons of faith, for the cause of sexual purity in the United States, and for the lives of persons struggling with same-sex attraction. Prepare for a reign of persecution and abuse of people of faith as hateful, ignorant, and discriminatory "bigots" and the moral equivalent of racists in every area of life in which people of faith intersect with the secular realm, individually and in their religious institutions, with a profound negative impact as well within most mainline denominations. Keep reading

Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage

As I write this, the Supreme Court has handed down what will be the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage, redefining marriage in all 50 states. This is a sober moment, and I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling. The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?

First of all, the church should not panic. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom.

Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures. Keep reading

With Same-Sex Decision, Evangelical Churches Address New Reality

The tone of the worship service was set at the start. An opening prayer declared it “a dark day.” The sermon focused on a psalm of lament. In between, a pastor read a statement proclaiming the church’s elders and staff “deeply saddened.”

In downtown Chicago, as in several other cities around the country, Sunday was marked by jubilation, the annual gay pride festivities made more celebratory by Friday’s Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. But here at Wheaton Bible Church, a suburban evangelical congregation that draws about 2,600 people to its five weekend worship services, it was a day of sorrow.

“I came in with a great sense of lament, because of what happened on Friday,” the church’s teaching pastor, Lon Allison, told worshipers before reading a statement declaring, “We cannot accept or adhere to any legal, political or cultural redefinition of biblical marriage, nor will we conduct or endorse same-sex ceremonies.” The dramatic shift in public opinion, and now in the nation’s laws, has left evangelical Protestants, who make up about a quarter of the American population, in an uncomfortable position. Out of step with the broader society, and often derided as discriminatory or hateful, many are feeling under siege as they try to live out their understanding of biblical teachings, and worry that a changing legal landscape on gay rights will inevitably lead to constraints on religious freedom. Keep reading

New: Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian

On Friday, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can now marry in all 50 states, setting off a flurry of reaction by Christians and virtually everyone else on social media and beyond.

Ed Stetzer wrote a helpful background post to the shift in opinion that led to the decision and included links to a number of other leading articles in his post.

The social media reaction ranged from surprising to predictable to disappointing to occasionally refreshing.

I write from the perspective of a pastor of an evangelical church in a country where same sex-marriage has been the law of the land for a decade.

That does not mean I hold any uniquely deep wisdom, but it does mean we’ve had a decade to process and pray over the issue. Keep reading

New: Why Gay Marriage Is Good (and Bad) for the Church

The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act serves as a boost to ongoing efforts to legalize same-sex marriage across the nation.

Christians believe marriage is defined by God and recognized by government. But many today believe marriage is defined by government and must be recognized by all.

For this reason, I’m not optimistic about the trends concerning marriage and family in the United States. Neither am I sure of what all this means for those who, in good conscience, stand against the tide.  But I am optimistic about the church of Jesus Christ. We’ve been through societal transformations before, and we’re sure to go through them again. Keep reading

New: What Your Church Needs to Know--and Do--about the Court's Marriage Ruling

By now, you have heard the Supreme Court issued its long-anticipated decision that imposed a 50-state same-sex marriage mandate. Pastors and churches have exhibited a great degree of uncertainty preceding this moment, wondering what the effect will be on their ministry. Now that the decision has been released, though, we can respond with greater clarity.

Here are the immediate things you need to know. Keep reading

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Fast Tracking the Formation of a Second ACNA Province

By Robin G. Jordan

An individual can claim to own a piece of property but unless he can produce proof of legal ownership, he has little ground to stand on in a court of law. Orthodox Anglicans of the Protestant, low-church stripe* in the Anglican Church in North America are like such an individual. They can diligently search the governing documents and other doctrinal statements of the Anglican Church in North America but they will find nothing giving them any kind of formal recognition in the denomination or any kind of official standing to their beliefs and values. They have no deed, or legal title, to the property that they claim to own. They are in a position where they can be evicted at anytime as squatters. While the law codes of some states recognize squatters’ rights, the ACNA governing documents have no such provisions. Their continuance in the ACNA is dependent the absence of any objection to their presence by those who do have official standing in the denomination – Anglo-Catholics and others who accept the unreformed Catholic teaching and practices endorsed by the denomination’s governing documents and its College of Bishops.

If those who have official standing in the denomination eventually object to their presence in the denomination, they have nothing to which they can appeal. Understandings that are not put in writing and incorporated into the constitution, canons, and other doctrinal statements of the Anglican Church in North America are only binding as long as both parties to such understandings are of the same mind. They have no force of law. If one party decides that they no longer wish to be bound by a particular understanding, the other party has no recourse.

On the other hand, Anglo-Catholics and others who accept the unreformed Catholic teaching and practices endorsed by the denomination’s governing documents and its College of Bishops have a number of documents to which they can appeal. They do not have to depend on the continuation of an unwritten understanding. They formally and officially have standing in the denomination. They have a paper trail to show their connection.

While one party may has so far not raised any objections to the presence of the other party in the denomination, it is sheer foolishness to depend upon such understandings. The mere fact that a party to an unwritten understanding, is unwilling to enter into a written agreement that gives official standing to the other party should set alarm bells ringing and red lights blinking.

The argument that an unwritten understanding was the only thing that orthodox Anglicans of the Protestant – low-church stripe could obtain for themselves in the face of Anglo-Catholic intransigence is a weak one. The refusal to compromise or abandon an extreme position itself should have raised red flags. At that point the wisest choice would have been to withdraw from further discussion. A genuine partnership requires compromise by both parties, not acquiescence by one party in face of the other party’s refusal to make concessions.

Taking the initiative and forming a second province within the Anglican Church in North America, a province that in its doctrinal foundation is closely aligned with the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies and which has its own governing documents, ordinal, service book, catechism, bishops, and synodical government, is an important step toward the formal recognition of the presence of a Protestant – low-church wing in the denomination and the extension of official standing to their beliefs and values. They will no longer be a part of the Anglican Church in North America solely on the basis that no one has gotten around to seriously objecting to their presence in the denomination.

From the comments from the Anglo-Catholic wing on the Internet, it is clear that a segment of that wing does object to the presence of a Protestant – low-church wing in the denomination. However, the leaders of the Anglo-Catholic wing have adopted the more politically expedient policy of making it difficult for a Protestant – low-church wing to flourish in the denomination so eventually that wing will disappear due to attrition and assimilation. One way to keep a group from growing and thriving is to deny formal recognition to the group and withholding official status from its beliefs and values. This is a form of marginalization in which a group is placed in a position of marginal influence. Other forms of marginalization are to give such a group only token representation, if any representation at all, on important decision-making bodies, and then not to consider the group’s concerns and recommendations in the decisions of such bodies.

Marginalization involves the relegation of a group to a position of inferiority and unimportance. Those who deny the marginalization in the Anglican Church in North America of orthodox Anglicans of the Protestant – low-church stripe need to take a hard look at their position in the denomination:
What provisions have been made for their beliefs and values in the denomination’s governing documents, in its ordinal, its rites and services, its catechism, and its organizational structure and form of government?

How extensive are these provisions?

How much weight is given to their opinions on key issues in such areas as doctrine and liturgical usages?

To what degree are the features historically favored by orthodox Anglicans of their stripe evident in the organizational structure and form of government of the denomination?
Such an examination of their position will show that they have indeed been marginalized.

I see no indications of a serious effort in the Anglican Church in North America to comprehend the beliefs and values of Anglicans who are Evangelical and low-church in tradition and committed to the Protestant and Reformed doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies—none whatsoever. What I do see is the promotion of the narrow interests of one school of thought in the denomination, a school of thought that is unreformed Catholic in its teaching and practices and which has more in common with Roman Catholicism and in some instances Eastern Orthodoxy than it does authentic historic Anglicanism. The beliefs and values of this school of thought are affirmed exclusively over those of the other schools of thought represented in the denomination.

I personally would not be comfortable as a judicatorial official, pastor, or church member in a denomination in which Christians who share my views on doctrine, worship, and governance do not enjoy any recognition or their views any standing. To my mind a denomination that does not affirm what I and Christians like myself believe and value is not the right denomination for a Christian like me. For this reason I no longer worship and minister in the Episcopal Church, a denomination in which I spent my teen years and a good part of my adulthood. Most of congregations and clergy forming the Anglican Church in North America left the Episcopal Church for the same reason: it no longer affirmed what they believed and valued. In this regard the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America are alike when it comes to Reformed Evangelicals. They both do not affirm the beliefs and values of Reformed Evangelicals.

The formation of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America, a province that in its doctrinal foundation is closely aligned with the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies and which has its own governing documents, ordinal, service book, catechism, bishops, and synodical government, is a major step toward making the Anglican Church in North America genuinely comprehensive. It would do away with unwritten understandings that permit Reformed Evangelicals and other Anglicans who are low-church in their tradition and Protestant in their theological leanings to be a part of the denomination as long as no serious objection is raised to their presence. It would eliminate their dependence upon the good will of the denomination’s Anglo-Catholic wing whose goodwill that is tied to their accommodation of the beliefs and values of that wing, the only wing to enjoy formal recognition and official standing in the denomination.

For those who wonder how they got into this mess in the first place, it must be pointed out that what comprises the ACNA’s Protestant – low-church wing was not adequately represented in the Common Cause Partnership bodies that drafted the ACNA constitution and canons. The same bodies ignored that wing’s proposals for the revision of the two documents.

Before the Inaugural Provincial Assembly then AMiA Bishop John Rodgers published an open letter on the Internet, urging Evangelicals to set aside their misgivings about the draft constitution and canons and to support their adoption and ratification. He maintained that any delay while their concerns were addressed would prevent the formation of a new province altogether. He claimed that their concerns would be addressed once the two documents were approved and ratified. Having helped to achieve this result, the letter was then taken off the Internet. To date none of their concerns have been addressed. They were misled. Bishop Rodgers has never offered them an apology for misleading them.

At the Inaugural Provincial Assembly the Anglo-Catholic wing blocked any serious revision of the two documents in the Provincial Council.  Then Archbishop Elect Robert Duncan hurried the delegates to the Assembly through the ratification of the two documents, frequently interrupting the proceedings and telling the delegates that speakers were waiting to address them. Many delegates were caught up in the excitement of the moment and did not think through the implications of the various provisions of the draft constitution and canons. A number of delegates admitted later that they had serious misgivings when they voted for the two documents’ ratification.

The ACNA constitution and canons create a system in which changes to the constitution and canons must originate in one small group – the Governance Task Force, be approved by the Provincial Council, and finally ratified by the Provincial Assembly. It is a system similar to that which existed in the Russian Communist Party in the Soviet days. It is also a system similar to that which exists in the Roman Catholic Church. It permits one faction to control the process from start to finish. The Provincial Council may amend proposed legislation but it cannot initiate it. The Provincial Assembly cannot amend legislation submitted to it, only ratify it or send it back to the Provincial Council. The proceedings of the Assembly are orchestrated in such a way that there is very little likelihood that delegates will reject legislation approved by the Provincial Council.

The only way for the Protestant – low-church wing of the Anglican Church in North America to gain affirmation of their beliefs and values in the denomination is to take the initiative and form a second province within the denomination over the objections of Anglo-Catholics and others who have an investment in the status quo. In the kind of system created by the ACNA constitution and canons, it is the only way that wing can gain formal recognition of its presence and official standing for what it believes and values. Those who oppose its formation will then be forced to deal with the reality of its existence. They will be faced with two options. The first option is to negotiate a working agreement under which the two provinces would cooperate on matters of common interest. The second option is to go their separate way. If they choose the second option, it will say a lot about where they really stand in relation to historic Anglicanism and cooperation with Evangelicals. It will be an eye-opener for the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
*I borrowed this descriptor from Canon David Wilson. 

Are Our Minds Totally Depraved?

Yes. The doctrine of total depravity asserts two key points. First, all that we are has been affected by the fall. It impacts our hearts, our minds, our bodies, our desires, everything about us. There is no untouched area. Second, the doctrine affirms that there is no island of righteousness out of which we can, on our own, embrace the work of Christ for us. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and before we can embrace His work for us we must be made alive by the Holy Spirit. Regeneration, or the rebirth, like our first birth, isn’t something we do, but something done to us. Thus, regeneration precedes, logically speaking, faith. Regeneration is the cause of faith, not faith the cause of regeneration. Keep reading

Also see
Guilt Is Not Just a Feeling

4 Steps to Making Great Decisions Every Time

When making decisions, there are situations in life where morality is not enough and we need wisdom.

Wisdom is not a teaching, but rather a person named Jesus. When God calls everyone to pursue wisdom, it’s a call to know Him through the Lord Jesus. He is the wisdom of God.

How are you wise in making decisions? When you have multiple options in front of you, how do you determine which is the best choice? How do you not make a bad choice?

For those of us who love Jesus we want to know how to make a choice that honors God.

We could not be in more desperate need for wisdom in decision making than now, both as a society and as a church. We’re in an unprecedented time where we have more options than ever. When you look at anything in our lives, there are multiple choices.

At the grocery store, every single product has thousands of variations. I feel this every time I buy deodorant. There are thirty different brands with different features, scents, and incredible technology. I don’t know what the best choice it. It can be debilitating sometimes.

With all these options, how do you know what the best choice is? Keep reading

Also see
Do You Lack Vision?

4 Foundational Questions for Small Group Ministries

There are several foundational questions that must be asked and answered in order to determine what your small group ministry will look like. Think every small group ministry has the same end in mind? You might be surprised. Alan Kay pointed out that “Point of view (or perspective) is worth 80 IQ points.” Spending sufficient time wrestling these questions to the ground will help clarify many things before you even get started. Or at least, before you build the next layer. See also, Avoid These Four Realities at Your Own Peril.

The way these questions are answered should play a role in how your ministry is designed. And the design of your ministry absolutely determines the results you should anticipate. See also, 7 Signs You Have a Bad Design for Small Group Ministry. Keep reading

Articles and Videos on the Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Decision.

As I stated yesterday, I am posting links to additional articles and a video on the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage in today's issue of Anglicans Ablaze:

Mohler responds to Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision
Reaction to the Supreme Court's Decision on Same-Sex Marriage [Video]
Moore spearheads evangelical marriage statement
Gay weddings: who must perform them?
ERLC resources ready on gay marriage
'Outrage and Panic' Are Off-Limits, Say Evangelical Leaders on Same-Sex Marriage
What Else to Read about the Gay Marriage Decision
Court’s Marriage Ruling Creates Uncertainty for Churches, Clergy
What Churches and Clergy Should Note from the Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

The Gospel Coalition website has posted a number of articles on the same-sex marriage and same-sex attraction. Links to today's articles may be found here and yesterday's articles here. You will need to scroll down the page to the previous day's articles. You will need to click on page 2 to read Joe Carter's article, "Explainer: What You Should Know about the Supreme Court's Same-Sex Marriage Ruling."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Taking the First Step toward the Formation of a Second ACNA Province

"A journey of  thousand miles begins with a single step" - Laozi

By Robin G. Jordan

Any movement for the formation of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America, a province whose doctrinal foundation is firmly grounded in the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies and which has its own constitution, canons, ordinal, service book, catechism, bishops, and synodical government, will face a number of obstacles. The biggest hurdle that its proponents must overcome is themselves and their own hesitancy. However, unless they seize the initiative, nothing is going to happen.

The Anglo-Catholic - philo-Orthodox leaders who presently occupy the place of power in the Anglican Church in North America have no motivation to introduce the kind of reforms that would officially make room in the denomination for an Evangelical – low-church wing committed to the Protestant and Reformed doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies, reforms in the doctrinal foundation of the denomination, its organizational structure and form of government, its ordinal, service book, and catechism. They are not under any external or internal pressure to undertake such reforms. They see no benefit for themselves in reforms of this type.

Any movement for a second province in the Anglican Church in North America will face opposition. There are always those who have an investment in the status quo and are not open to any kind of change, even change that over the long haul will greatly benefit the denomination. However, it will be the kind of opposition that is not likely to generate sympathy for those who oppose the second province movement.

The Anglo-Catholic – philo-Orthodox wing of the Anglican Church in North America is selfishly seeking to impose upon the denomination the teaching and practices that it espouses rather than pursuing a policy of comprehension which generously provides space for all schools of Anglican thought represented in the denomination. It has put in place an organizational structure and form of government which enables it to do so. Taking steps to suppress a movement that seeks to gain official standing in the denomination for what the English Reformers and generations of Anglicans have believed and valued and still believe and value and to establish a more synodical form of government is not going to generate sympathy from Evangelicals in the provinces and dioceses of the Anglican Communion and in Anglican entities outside of the Communion.

What I anticipate is that those opposing the movement will initially seek to marshal opinion in and outside the Anglican Church in North America against the movement, labeling its proponents as divisive and calling for denominational unity. What will go unsaid is that such unity will require embracing unreformed Catholic teaching and practices and an organizational structure and form of government that is closer to that of a sub-unit of the Roman Catholic Church than it is to a province of the Anglican Communion, an organizational structure and form of government which permits one ecclesiastic party to dominate the system at all levels, determining official doctrine, vetting or approving who may be seated on the episcopal bench, and otherwise shaping the denomination to its liking. The specter of liberalism may be raised, accompanied by a call for renewed solidarity against this bogeyman.

If the opponents of the second province movement take more aggressive steps to suppress the movement, they are going to draw unwanted attention to themselves and their motivations.  The similarity between the movement’s opponents and the Episcopal Church’s oppressive leaders will not escape the astute observer.

What I am not expecting is a frank admission from opponents of the movement that they themselves are responsible for the state of affairs in the Anglican Church in North America. What they fear most is that control of the denomination will slip from their grasp.

I also anticipate that a second province movement and the opposition that it faces will dispel a lot of the illusions that members of the Anglican Church in North America and outsiders have in regards to the denomination. Their disappearance will enable ACNA members and outsiders to make an honest assessment of the denomination’s doctrinal foundation, organizational structure, form of government, ordinal, service book, and catechism and their undeniable partisan character.  They will be confronted with the incontrovertible fact that one wing of the denomination, whatever its reasons, is seeking to impose its agenda on the rest of the denomination to the point of marginalizing the denomination’s other wings. This is occurring in a denomination that was formed in response to the exclusion that the different groups comprising the denomination experienced in the Episcopal Church, a denomination which was to provide an environment in which all the excluded groups could flourish and in which the narrow interests of one group would not dominate their common life and ministry.

Among the benefits of the formation within the Anglican Church in North America of a second province of the type that I have been describing is that it would be a major step toward the creation of such an environment.

A second benefit of its formation would be, as I pointed out in yesterday’s article, that it would secure a future for the Evangelical- low-church wing of the denomination (and I would add, for other marginalized groups in the denomination as well) and would provide a boost to their church planting and evangelism efforts.

A third benefit would be that it would make the Anglican Church in North America more attractive to Evangelicals and other Protestant Christians who, while drawn to the Anglican Prayer Book tradition and liturgical forms of worship, are turned off by the denomination’s doctrine, organizational structure, and form of government. The Anglican Church in North America could greatly benefit from an inflow of such Christians, congregations and clergy, particularly those who have church planting and evangelism in their DNA.

Right now orthodox Anglicans of any stripe other than Anglo-Catholic – philo-Orthodox are part of the Anglican Church in North America purely on sufferance. Their beliefs and values have no official standing in the denomination. The doctrinal statements that the College of Bishops has endorsed to date make this perfectly clear. They countenance only unreformed Catholic teaching and practices. They do not show toleration, much less approval of any other teaching or practices. The formation of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America, a province whose doctrinal foundation is firmly grounded in the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies and which has its own constitution, canons, ordinal, service book, catechism, bishops, and synodical government, would remedy this situation.

Dealing with a Crisis: Three Articles

5 Things NOT To Do In Times of Crisis

In my profession, I encounter a lot of people in crisis. Since this is mostly a leadership blog, I tend to think of leaders I know who are currently or have been in crisis. They may be a personal crisis or within a group or organization in which you lead, but the way you respond will almost always determine the quality of recovery from the crisis. Keep reading

5 Things TO DO In Times of Crisis

In my last post I shared 5 things not to do in times of crisis. I am writing this with the leader in mind, but I suspect they may be life applicable regardless of the crisis. Keep reading

5 Things To Do AFTER the Crisis

I have been writing about the times of crisis — especially from the viewpoint of leadership. My hope is that if you are in crisis-mode right now you are beginning to see the end of the tunnel. I pray God brings you through this time quickly. Keep reading
These three articles by Ron Edmondson are not only helpful but also timely.

5 Early Leadership Mistakes I Made (That You You Don’t Need To)

I love it when leaders share their success stories. It’s great to pick up transferable principles and try to work them into your life.

But there’s a part of me that likes it even more when leaders share their mistakes.

When someone shares their mistakes, I feel like I can relate to them. It reminds me I’m not alone. And it shows me we’re really all in this together.

People admire your strengths, but they resonate with your weaknesses.

So let me share with you some more of my weaknesses as a leader. Some of these mistakes are mistakes I made starting out, and some I still struggle with.

I’ll bet you can relate.

For all five mistakes listed below, I’ve had to adjust the sails and learn new behaviours that make me more effective at what I’m called to do.

The best part, of course, is once you’ve noticed the mistakes you naturally make, you can learn new skills to manoeuvre around them. It’s the self-aware who grow the most.

Here are five leadership mistakes I’ve made that (now) you no longer need to....Keep reading

Also see
The Recurrent Theme in TGC’s Advice to Young Pastors
The second article has links to all the articles in the Gospel Coalition's Young Pastors series.

Islamic threat, religious liberty studied

Americans view Islam as a threat to their own nation's religious liberty almost as strongly as they consider it a danger to religious freedom internationally, a new study shows.

Although most persecution occurs overseas, 39 percent of American adults say Islam threatens religious freedom in the U.S. -- almost as many as the 40 percent who see Islam as a global threat, a survey by Nashville-based LifeWay Research finds. Keep reading

Supreme Court extends same-sex marriage nationwide - UPDATED

The U.S. Supreme Court transformed the legal definition of marriage Friday (June 26), legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

In a 5-4 decision, the high court ruled states must recognize marriages between people of the same sex, providing a new definition throughout the country to an institution created by God as a covenant between a man and a woman.

Southern Baptist leaders expressed their dismay at the opinion, as well as their encouragement for the church to respond with courage and compassion. Keep reading

Also see
5-4 marriage decision: Christians 'will stand fast'
Here's What Supreme Court Says about Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Freedom
Same-Sex Marriage is now the Law of the (U.S.) Land: What Now for Christians?
Six Things To Do after the Supreme Court Decision on Gay Marriage
Same Sex Marriage Is Legal: How Pastors are Responding in this Crucial Moment
Here We Stand: An Evangelical Declaration on Marriage
The Most Popular Bible Verses for Debating Gay Marriage
US Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage nationwide
Gay marriage is legal in the US: Try not to worry
Supreme Court Says States Must Recognize Gay Marriage
Supreme Court Marriage Ruling 'Fashion Over Law'
Religious Conservatives Will Be Vilified and Marginalized, Lose Their Religious Freedom, Justices Warn in Gay Marriage Dissenting Opinions
Gov't Cannot Bestow Dignity, 'Slaves Did Not Lose Their Dignity,' Thomas Says in Gay Marriage Dissent
Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling Will Harm Religious Freedom, Marginalize Biblical Worldview, Russell Moore, Tony Perkins, Samuel Rodriguez Warn
Robert George Discusses Same-Sex Marriage and Its Social Consequences
Due to the large number of articles in reaction to the Supreme Courts decision on gay marriage, I am going to post additional articles in tomorrow's issue of Anglicans Ablaze. I  will try to post the articles that have the most useful content for Christians dealing with the effects of this decision.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Rationale for a Second ACNA Province

By Robin G. Jordan

Some of my readers may wonder why I have lately been advocating the formation of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America rather a second province independent of that body. The Anglican Church in North America has a school of thought that that wishes to appropriate the label “Anglican” solely for itself and to redefine Anglicanism as only encompassing what it believes and values. This school of thought would like to see congregations and clergy that are Evangelical and low-church in tradition and committed to the Protestant and Reformed doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies withdraw from the denomination, leaving it free to characterize and portray the departing congregations and clergy as not genuinely Anglican. This is one of the reasons, if not the principal reason, that the ACNA leaders who belong to this school of thought have not made room for other schools of thought beside their own in the denomination.

This school of thoughts which has its roots in the nineteenth century Oxford Movement has sought to reshape Anglican identity from Protestant to unreformed Catholic for the past 182 years. It has sought to exclude Evangelicals and others who do not share its beliefs and values from the Anglican Church.

If congregations and clergy that stand in continuity with the English Reformers form their own province within the Anglican Church in North America, the formation of this province will deny the same school of thought of what it covets. It will not be able to claim that it alone represents authentic Anglicanism. Indeed its true nature will be exposed – a movement to weaken the authority of the Bible and to undo the effects of the English Reformation in the Anglican Church.

This school of thought’s claim to be a theological strand within Anglicanism is very tenuous at best. Its argument that true Anglicanism is a form of unreformed Catholicism relies on false logic and sophistry. The description of the Medieval English Church as “ecclesia Anglicana,” or “English Church,” in Latin documents is a flimsy basis for making such a claim.

Claiming its antecedents include the Remonstrants and the Caroline High Churchmen does not qualify it as such a theological strand nor does selectively citing the works of Bishop John Jewel and benchmark Anglican divine Richard Hooker. The Remonstrants were clandestine Roman Catholics who secretly celebrated the Latin Mass and plotted the overthrow of England’s Protestant monarchs. The Caroline High Churchmen regarded the Anglican Church and themselves as Protestant and upheld the Thirty-Nine Articles as the Anglican Church’s confession of faith. Archbishop John Bramhall whose writings are sometimes quoted out of context as laying out the core argument against the Articles was a stalwart defender of the Anglican Church against its Roman Catholic critics, referring to the Articles in his defense of the Anglican Church . Both Jewel and Hooker were Biblical and Protestant in their stance and Evangelical and Reformed in their doctrine.

The concerted effort upon the part of the adherents of this school of thought to not only revive pre-Tridentian Roman Catholic teaching and practices in the Anglican Church but also to introduce post-Tridentian Roman Catholic innovations in doctrine and worship point to its true nature. Having failed to bring the Anglican Church into the orbit of the Roman Catholic Church in the nineteenth and twentieth century, it now seeks to reshape the Anglican Church along the lines of an imaginary golden age of Christianity—the purportedly undivided Church of the early High Middle Ages before the East-West schism in the eleventh century.

Essentially this school of thought views classical Anglicanism as not fully “Catholic.” On the other hand, by the standards of classical Anglicanism, the same school of thought is insufficiently reformed and consequently falls short of being regarded as genuinely Anglican. It may have expropriated the Anglican name but it has not assimilated the Anglican genius.

Leaving this school of thought to exclusively take the Anglican name for itself would not serve the cause of the gospel in North America. As Roger Beckwith and James Packer point out in The Thirty-Nine Articles: Their Place and Use Today, one of the functions of the Articles of Religion is to safeguard the truth of the gospel.

At the present time the adherents of this school of thought have sought to push those who do not share their beliefs and values out of the Anglican Church in North America by denying official standing to what they believe and value. They may become more aggressive in this effort if the formation of a second province in the denomination threatens to check their aspirations.

At that point the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will not be able to continue to ignore what it happening in the Anglican Church in North America. Otherwise, it will place itself in the untenable position of countenancing the persecution of Anglicans faithful to the teaching of the Bible and loyal to the doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies through its failure to intervene after committing itself to a policy of intervention.

The formation of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America, a second province which in its doctrinal foundation is fully aligned with the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican formularies, is essential to the furtherance of the gospel in North America, as well as to the preservation of Anglican identity and orthodoxy. Organized into their own province, congregations and clergy that are Evangelical and low-church in tradition and committed to the Protestant and Reformed principles of the Anglican formularies will be able devote their full attention to the central task of Christ’s Church—making disciples. They will no longer have to navigate their way through a denominational environment that is barely tolerant of their presence and is decidedly unsupportive of their beliefs and values.

The formation of a second province within the Anglican Church in North America with such a doctrinal foundation gives those who claim that they are moderate and are committed to a policy of comprehension an opportunity to demonstrate that they are indeed what they claim they are. To do nothing and not to take a stand is to tacitly support the extremist element in the denomination. Demonstrating the truth of their claim requires pushing for much needed reforms in doctrine, governance, and worship in the denomination, distancing themselves from the extremist element and repudiating the policies associated with that element by their actions, not just their words.

The formation of a second province independent of the Anglican Church in North America should be considered only as an option at the stage when the extremist element in the Anglican Church in North America become overt in their effort to force congregations and clergy not sharing their beliefs and values out of the denomination. At that stage the extremist element will not be able to shift the blame for its actions on the departing congregations and clergy and will have to accept responsibility for the damage that it has inflicted to the Anglican Church in North America’s public image.

At the same time maintaining the status quo in the Anglican Church in North America is not going to secure a future in that denomination for congregations and clergy who are Evangelical and low-church in tradition and are committed to the Protestant and Reformed doctrine and principles of the Anglican formularies. They will eventually disappear as the processes of attrition and assimilation take their toll. Their only hope for a future in that denomination is in a second province with its own doctrinal foundation, constitution, canons, ordinal, service book, catechism, bishops, and synodical government.

Maintaining the status quo is also not going to free them to devote their full attention to fulfilling the Great Commission. They will be encumbered in their gospel work by an ordinal, catechism, and service book that do not uphold what they understand the Scriptures to teach. They will be required to work under overseers who are prepared to rob them of the fruits of their labors. Only in a province of their own, a province that welcomes their presence and shares what they believe and value, will they be able to devote themselves wholeheartedly to the spread of the gospel.